Older homes with smaller kitchens sometimes have the refrigerator inside the "U" but that really eats into the counter space. Most often you’ll see a U‐shaped kitchen with the refrigerator on the adjacent wall right outside the "U" which is fine. It’s still within the work triangle. One signature of the U‐shaped kitchen is the peninsula. In this case it doesn’t have seating due to the passageway between rooms. The lack of kitchen seating is often the reason people prefer the L‐shaped kitchen with an island to the U‐shaped kitchen.
Island. No matter how modestly sized an island can provide invaluable space for working serving and storing. I recently interviewed a designer who advised that we take the recommended dimensions and clearances with a grain of salt as they tend to work only for mansions and in Fantasyland. As long as you’re not bruising a hip every time you round the island you have enough space.
Tile Kitchen Counters. One of the more affordable counter choices (starting at $30 per square foot installed) ceramic or stone tile is incredibly durable and one of the few DIY countertop options. Maintenance can be difficult with all that grout but choosing a durable and dark grout can make things easier.